Arfun Ahmed (birth 1985) lives in Dhaka, is a wanderer who learnt photography at the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute. His photography and art imagery lean towards literature and words that travel. Arfun himself has travelled from student politics to contributing in dailies and doing illustration work, teaching the history of photography, to his present status of being a freelance artist. His personal living inspires his art. Although politics lies at the basis of his artistic practice, its expression is more aligned towards prose forms.
Baba Betar is an art radio project, which also acts as a contemporary sound archive. It began in March 2020, after a countrywide lockdown was imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of the audio productions of Baba Betar are text-dependent. Baba Betar would broadcast textual material to help people make sense of the pandemic in a general and overall manner. Various critical essays and poetry concerning the reasons behind the pandemic, its economic and political backdrop, the objective of declaring a state of emergency globally, and its impact on Bangladesh society, would be broadcasted daily on Baba Betar. Translated pieces would also be read out, worth mentioning are Alberto Moravia’s Scherzi del caldo (Hot Weather Jokes) translated by Biplob Akand, and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s (Heavenly Christmas Tree) translated by Abir Shome. Open conversations about contemporary issues, dramatised short story reading, and music were also broadcast. Baba Betar will resume broadcasting from 12 to 21 February for the Chobi Mela Special Edition, Shunno. Critical textual readings will be broadcasted as before, but in several South Asian languages. Besides this, we will team up with several sound archive projects, such as the Travelling Archive (India), Word Warriors (Nepal), and broadcast their stories and sound curated audio episodes which have been archived. Other Baba Betar programmes include contemporary music and sound projects, accompanied by collaborative audio episodes, audio documentary and readings by contemporary poets. While interactive social media may seed ideas and lead people to form some sort of consensus, in the final analysis, these responses are basically individual. Baba Betar seeks to maintain uninterrupted communication with the qowm (community) through collective initiatives in these times of compulsory physical distancing.